Editor’s Note: Welcome to In My Cart, a regular series in which we ask some of the coolest guys we know what they’ve recently acquired, are thinking about buying, or need to buy more of — but for whatever reason don’t have in hand just yet. This week San Francisco chef Ravi Kapur.
Liholiho Yacht Club quickly became one of San Francisco’s hottest restaurants after opening its doors in 2015. Hawaii-born chef Ravi Kapur — a veteran of SF eateries Prospect and Boulevard — turned a wildly successful multi-course pop-up restaurant (which used the Liholiho name since 2012) into a fully-realized destination with an incredibly exciting menu. (He was named a “Best New Chef” by Food & Wine the year after opening).
A sampling of plates on the current menu reads like this: “shaved pig head, pickled fresnos, pumpkin seed tomatillo pesto, nectarine, crispy pig ears”; “marinated squid, crispy tripe, lemon cucumber, red cabbage, watermelon, peanuts”; “slab of beef ribs, kimchi glaze, miso butter green zucchini, pickled onion.”
And, then there’s the ambiance. It’s like a casual party: unhurried, welcoming, fun. “Fun is interesting because it sounds so simple, but really takes attention to all the details in order to pull it off from the service being attentive, but not stuffy, the lighting being right, the music on point and of course the food and drinks giving you a reason to come back,” Kapur said. “I’m also big into vibe and how something feels.”
To him, it’s not a plug-and-play method, hiring some leading consultants to develop a trendy concept — it’s a completely holistic approach. “Vibe isn’t a switch you can turn on and off and it doesn’t start when you open the door. It’s the tone that’s set from the beginning of the day and carries through.”
And though Kapur has garnered effusive reviews in the years since opening, he hasn’t slowed down. “While the main draw for our guests is the experience of Liho and the vibe we create with all of the essential elements of a restaurant, I’m continuing to work on being a more effective leader and building a team and developing individuals in a positive and sustainable way.” In that realm, Kapur and Jeff Hanak (partner of Liholiho, Nopa and Nopalito) are partnering with chef David Golovin to open a restaurant called Dear Inga in the Mission.
“David will be drawing inspiration from his familial roots in Eastern Europe; of course, warmth and hospitality is a cornerstone,” Kapur said. “He has a passion for old-world techniques and will keep it seasonal, working with local farms: fermentation, preserving, smoking, wood-fire cooking and sausage making will be important culinary techniques.” Dear Inga is slated to open in September on 18th Street (taking over the former Farina property).
Between his various responsibilities, Kapur took a moment to share a few of the things he’s currently on the hunt for. From a tent conversion for a Jeep to fitness gear to barefoot shoes, the list depicts a man set bucking the trends of the restaurant industry in more ways than one. These great products facilitate a healthy lifestyle and will keep Kapur at the top of his game. But he describes it best.
Jeep Wrangler Rubicon with Ursa Minor Tent Conversion
“I’ve been eyeing this set up for a while: manual transmission Jeep Rubicon with custom pop-up rooftop tent conversion. The idea of being able to escape the city and head to the mountains for a quick camping trip escape sounds amazing.”
Vivo Barefoot Primus Lite
“Being on your feet for 16 hours a day can really do a number on your feet, back and hips. Understanding the origin of pain and addressing it before it becomes an issue is super important for me especially as I get older. I started working out barefoot three years ago and it has positively impacted me so much — no more foot or back pain.
“Understanding the importance of our feet and how to strengthen that foundation has positively impacted my life. I gotta keep up with my son! While I still have my slight sneaker addiction outside of the kitchen, I try to be barefoot or in a minimal cushion zero drop shoe that will let my feet work, strengthen and gather feedback.”
VooDoo Floss Band and RumbleRoller
“Always looking for tools to add to the kit for increasing mobility and range of motion.”
Filson Cover Cloth Bomber
“I’m a huge fan of wax cotton and am intrigued by the history of it. Originally, it was used on ship sails to provide durability and water protection. Hand-sewn in Seattle is a plus.”
X Oven Charcoal Oven
“Apparently these live-fuel charcoal ovens are huge in Europe. I saw it first here in SF at Dispensa. Well insulated, modular and with three cooking drawers and multiple temperature zones, this oven is on my list for sure.”
Rogue Echo Bike
“I have a consistent weekly workout regimen of strength and conditioning, but have my eye on this bike to get that cardio burn going.”
Dita Mach 5
“I’ve been eyeing these for a few years. I have a couple of pairs of Ditas, and the level of detail throughout is something you don’t see to often. Gotta check out the nose pieces.”